'Dirt Boyz': More than earth movers, shakers

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jake Carter
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The 99th Civil Engineer Squadron's heavy equipment operators, known as the "Dirt Boyz," provide heavy lifting to Nellis Air Force Base.

"Heavy equipment" is a blanket term used for the numerous types of construction machines in the Air Force: cranes, bulldozers, front end loaders, backhoes, graders, dredges, hoists, drills, pumps and compressors are just some of the equipment used by the operators.

One of the Dirt Boyz mission is to make sure runways are operational and safe for pilots during take offs and landings. Additionally, they maintain sidewalks, roads, signs, crane support and anything related to base construction.

With the projects the Dirt Boyz support on base, it's not hard to imagine how they earned their nickname.

"We get dirty doing our job, and it happens to be moving earth most of the time, so we are called Dirt Boyz," said Tech. Sgt. Jake Quinories, 99th CES heavy equipment NCO in charge. "Pretty much any heavy equipment you see on base, we operate."

The Dirt Boyz handiwork can be seen throughout the base.

"Some of our major accomplishments you may see on a daily basis are the two round-a-bouts on base. But some of our more recent work would be the new detour access road expansion near the horse stables behind base housing, and the curb and gutter placed on Blytheville and Range Road," Quinories said. "We also give backhoe support to our fellow engineers for water breaks and the occasional cranes support for CE or any personnel on the flight line needing crane support to swap out engines or propellers on certain aircraft." 

With Dirt Boyz having a hand in the majority of construction projects on base, the approximately 35 Airmen and civilians assigned to the 99th CES believe they are integral.

"Stateside, we are all about up keeping up the base and runways," said Staff Sgt. Josiah Santiago, 99th CES heavy equipment journeyman.

When Dirt Boyz deploy, their mission stays the same.

"When we deploy, our primary focus is the runways. We are incredibly proud of our contribution to the flying mission," Santiago said.

While deployed, Santiago was the NCOIC of airfield maintenance, but he was involved in other projects that helped coalition partners.

"We did a lot of (repairs), the runways were not in the best shape because they had been there for a long time," Santiago said. "We also did a lot of crane lifts, where we would lift up conexs that would go down to Afghanistan to help build them up, and we helped build up the Royal Australian air force."

With the amount of support the Dirt Boyz provide to the base, the Airmen are proud of what they do.

"We do a lot, but we don't do it for the recognition, we do it because most of us love our job," Santiago said. "It's a point of pride to do it the best way. Every time we want to give 100 percent, and every Dirt Boy I have ever met is always proud, and we have pride all the way down."